Created: November 15, 2020 10:21 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Two former elected officials in New Mexico are speaking out over Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s decision to reinstate another near-shutdown.
Former Republican governor and former Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson and former congressman and current chair for Republican Party of New Mexico Steve Pearce said shutting down the state is the wrong move. Both of them disagree with state health leaders and think a shutdown will not slow the spread of COVID-19.
Although Johnson doesn't agree with the shutdown, he said New Mexicans should continue to follow other guidelines like social distancing and wearing masks.
“I want to deal with this in a very common sense way, and I think that this is going overboard, and once again, I think that this is going to have a huge negative impact on the state long term,” he said.
Johnson said he thinks shutdowns deny people their freedom.
“There’s no question that when you order a shutdown like this, that the spread flattens,” Johnson said. “ There’s no question about that, but we’re talking about short term, and we’re talking about long term, and we’re talking about liberty and freedom that’s being denied to individuals in this state.”
“Will more people die? I don’t know. Maybe that’s a bit of conjecture. This is an issue where there are two sides to every single question,” he added.
State leaders have reiterated that the best way to beat the virus is to stay home.
"This strategy we believe will be, can be successful,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham during a virtual COVID update Friday.
We are in a life or death situation,” she added.
State leaders said a shutdown will lower the chances of hospitals becoming overwhelmed, but Johnson said hospitals have proven they can problem-solve to make sure they’re OK.
New Mexico GOP Chairman Steve Pearce has been against shutdowns from day one.
“I think people are near a breaking point,” he said.
Pearce said he thinks parts of the state that have been less impacted by the virus should have fewer restrictions.
“You need to be looking at this much more strategically, trying to figure out how to keep as much of our life going as usual and still manage to not get the entire population sick. Other states seem to be doing it. We don’t seem to be doing that,” he said.
When asked if New Mexico would’ve seen more COVID-related deaths if state leaders had kept everything open, Pearce said there’s only one way to know.
“I don’t know. I think there’s only one way to assess that, and maybe that’s to give it a shot,” he said.
If there’s one thing each side of the political spectrum can agree on, it’s that the state will eventually have to figure out how to get the economy back on track.
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